Duke has received the largest single award in its history, worth $100 million, from The Duke Endowment, commemorating the centennial of both institutions.
Funds will be used to broaden access to the Duke education for students from the Carolinas and from underrepresented backgrounds, increase student support, grow the University’s community engagement and experiential learning initiatives and remodel the Reuben-Cooke building, according to a Thursday release.
The Duke Endowment is a private foundation based in Charlotte, and is Duke’s largest donor. Established in 1924 by James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment has donated nearly $2 billion to the University and its health system over the past 100 years.
“Our two institutions have a shared origin story, and I am absolutely delighted that The Duke Endowment has chosen to launch our centennial with this historic award that will shape the Duke student experience in our second century,” said President Vincent Price in the release. “This award underscores the value of transformative teaching and learning experiences that prepare students to successfully engage with the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.”
Over $60 million will be allocated towards expanding access to a Duke education and supporting Duke’s current and future undergraduate and graduate students, according to Frank Tramble, vice president for communications, marketing and public affairs.
“We are committed to continuing to make a Duke education accessible and affordable to students from a wide range of backgrounds,” said Provost Alec Gallimore in the release.
The award will help fund Duke’s new financial aid initiative for students from the Carolinas, announced in July, which provides full tuition grants to students from North and South Carolina with family incomes below $150,000. The new financial initiative has already resulted in “increased applications in the early admissions cycle,” Tramble wrote.
Graduate student support is also at the forefront of funding allocation.
Funds will be used to support graduate and professional students at the University who were undergraduates at historically Black colleges and universities or other minority-serving institutions. The support will “take several different forms, including financial aid, fellowships and programmatic support,” according to Tramble.
The award will also be used for fellowships for doctoral students and professional students in all of Duke’s schools, including the School of Medicine and School of Nursing.
“This extraordinary award will benefit hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students from the Carolinas and beyond each year, in all areas of Duke University,” Gallimore added.
The Reuben-Cooke Building will be modernized and reconfigured using $25 million from the award, Tramble wrote, in order to support “collaborative and interdisciplinary learning.” Currently, the sociology and psychology departments are housed in the Reuben-Cooke.
The building was renamed in 2020 to honor Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke, one of the first five Black undergraduates to attend Duke after campus was integrated in 1963. Reuben-Cooke served on the board of trustees for both Duke and The Duke Endowment.
The University hopes to “honor Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke’s legacy” by making the Reuben-Cooke Building “a model for 21st century teaching and learning.”
The remaining $12.6 million will be used to advance experiential learning opportunities and the University’s community engagement goals.
Funds will be used to provide more experiential learning opportunities to undergraduates and graduate students, including community-based work study programs. Duke also plans to create a support fund for the Duke Law Clinic, a program by which law students provide free legal assistance to North Carolinians.
“Strengthening communities in North Carolina and South Carolina through education is central to James B. Duke’s philanthropic vision,” said Charlie Lucas, chair of the board of The Duke Endowment in the release. “This award is a direct reflection of his desire to make a high-value education accessible to all and support students from across the Carolinas.”
The award will help Price implement his five-pillar vision for Duke’s second century, articulated over the past two years.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
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Adway S. Wadekar is a Trinity junior and former news editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.